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The Use of Pesticides in Farming

What are Pesticides?

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'Pesticides' is a term given to a range of products that are used to control insects, diseases and weeds. They include pesticides which you use in your home and garden such as slug pellets and weedkillers, as well as those used by farmers.

Why do we need Pesticides?

Farmers produce plentiful food at a reasonable price. We rightly expect our food to be safe and nutritious. Farmers may use pesticides to:photo: close up of yellow and red peppers (image)

  • protect crops from pests, weeds and diseases
  • protect human health, by stopping crops being contaminated by harmful microbes and moulds

Approval of Pesticides

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Strict regulations govern the sale and use of pesticides in the UK.

All pesticides must undergo a rigorous approval and authorisation process which results in an authorisation that:

  • Restricts the crops to which the pesticide can be applied
  • Specifies the rate at which the pesticides can be applied
  • Specifies the number of applications that can be made to a particular crop
  • Applies extra restrictions on use where appropriate

Organisations applying for an approval of a pesticide have to demonstrate, with scientific data, to the satisfaction of independent experts, that the product poses no unacceptable risks to human health, wildlife or the environment. This includes pesticides that are used on organic food.

Use of Pesticides

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If used correctly, pesticides should not pose a risk to the health of people.

By law, all users of pesticides must be adequately trained and must follow the product label. Users must keep the pesticide to the area they are treating.

When using pesticides, users must know how to reduce spray drift and take all reasonable precautions to do so. These include:

  • use of the right spraying techniques and equipment
  • taking account of the weather conditions, and
  • protecting members of the public, wildlife and the environment

The Code of Practice for Using Plant Protection Products, also known as the PPP Code, gives advice to farmers on using pesticides.

Reporting Incidents of Exposure to Pesticides

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If you feel that you have been affected by pesticides, you should report this to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). You can contact HSE on 0845 345 0055

If animals have been affected by pesticides you should report it to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (WIIS). You can contact them on 0800 321600.

Further information about reporting incidents

Contacting Us

If you have a query about the use of pesticides you can contact Us by phone, fax, email or post: Link to Contact details page

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